“Sitting up in the dark, he took a deep breath and scented a familiar, beguiling trace in the air…”

Deep Green Leaves, Alex Clark

Houses Borders Ghosts

Submission Call: City Stories

For stories about cities: how we live in them, work in them, or visit them, and how they've changed.

Deadline: Open now. Deadline Wednesday, 31st May, 2023.

Word count: 1,000-20,000 words

Submission fee: standard (see submission guidelines).

Payment and rights: standard (see submission guidelines).

How to submit: Read the submission guidelines, then send us your story through our submission form. Choose the ‘City Stories’ submission type at the top of the form.

Our themed submission call for spring 2023 is all about cities. We're looking for short stories about cities around the world, how they've changed over the years, and the experiences of the people who live in them, work in them, or visit them.

The role of cities in much of the world has changed quickly over the last couple of decades: first the Internet reduced their importance as shopping destinations, leading in some cases to dramatic changes in the appearance and usage of city centres. Then the more recent move towards homeworking, whether temporary or permanent, has changed the way we commute and meet each other. In the UK at least, shrinking council budgets have also reduced and reconfigured the services that are provided to residents, creating more changes in city life.

But cities have always been much more than simply commercial hotspots: teenagers take their first steps to independence on the bus into town, couples meet and create homes together, local communities rise and fall at the school gates, artists (yes, and writers) prowl the streets seeking inspiration.

This call is for your stories about how cities continue to shape and be shaped by the identities of the people who live, work, create, love, or travel in them.

If you don't live in a city, or don't have anything to say about that experience, think about the outsider's point of view too: what is it like to live in the shadow of a nearby city, or to spend time visiting one, at home or abroad?

As ever, feel free to interpret the theme as tightly or loosely as you like: any stories that stray too far will still be considered as general submissions. And by all means explore the changing politics of city life in your story, whether they're central to your story or part of the background, but try to draw on personal experience. (Resist the temptation to simply rewrite a newspaper headline as fiction.) And remember that most of all at The Fiction Desk we look for engaging stories featuring believable characters.

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